Surveying isn’t simply ‘a dad job’
Figures collected by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) indicate that the average UK male to female ratio of chartered surveyors in 2017 is 87% to just 13%. Northern Ireland (NI) comes in with female surveyor numbers slightly ahead of the UK average with an 84.5% to 15.5% split in 2017 — a 2.5% improvement from 2014 when only 13% of chartered surveyors here were women.
At an RICS event we discussed what the word ‘surveyor’ means to those not in the profession. Some of the recurring responses were ‘a dad job’ and ‘a man out on a building site in a high-vis vest and a hard hat’.
These latest statistics from RICS go some way to support one of the stereotypes as 2017 RICS figures show that in NI, 73% of the surveying profession is over the age of 40.
In total there are nearly 1,500 surveyors in the province at the chartered level across all surveying specialisms. Of this number, shockingly only 1% are under the age of 30. When comparing this with the other end of the scale, 43% are within 10 to 15 years of retirement.
The stereotype doesn’t take into account the various specialisms within the profession which are employed across the full spectrum of the property industry. Surveyors are involved in acquisition and sale of property and land, letting, the design process, building, costing, managing and much more.
As a 27-year-old general practice surveyor, I’m as likely to be standing on a site with a hard hat and high vis vest as I am at a desk drafting a service charge budget, or having a client meeting. Being a surveyor is more varied than most people understand and most of the time doesn’t involve wellies, unless that’s the route you choose.
The recession had a significant effect on entrants to property related courses in NI with numbers dropping by around 70% between 2007 to 2014 (RICS). This reduced intake has been reflected in considerably reduced numbers of young graduate surveyors entering the industry.
We’re now at a crossroads where in 10 to 15 years time, nearly half of the surveying population in NI will be retiring, and there is a severe lack of young surveyors to fill this void. RICS Matrics is working hard to promote the profession from primary school through to university level and change preconceptions, but all involved, from existing surveyors to RICS itself as well as the universities, need to do much more to sustain the profession and ensure it has a vibrant future.
Lynn Taylor MRICS is a chartered surveyor at Lisney and vice-chairperson of RICS Matrics Northern Ireland, its network for young surveyors